Today I received an email from The Princes Trust which really made me think……
“The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, released yesterday, shows that the number of young people who don’t feel in control of their lives has increased by more than one third. One in five young people even think their lives will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try.”
With the plethora of resources we have relating to empowerment, confidence and mental health it left me wondering, how has this figure increased?
I’m not about to start spouting that Yoga is the answer (it can form part of the answer, of course, but I don’t think JUST practicing Yoga solves child anxiety like this ) There’s more to this, it’s about how these children are viewing the world and hearing about the world on a daily basis.
My mind is whirring as I’m writing this. Mindset is something I am passionate about and therefore I have to analyse and discuss this.
“think their lives will amount to nothing”
This indicates 2 things:
- They WANT their life to amount to something (of course, who doesn’t?!)
- They don’t believe they have the ability.
In today’s modern world information is more readily available than EVER before. There are so many opportunities to learn literally anything! How do children foresee themselves as not being able to do anything meaningful? Is it underwhelm? have they not been shown the unlimited opportunities available in the world today? Or are they overwhelmed? Struggling to see where they can fit into 7 billion humans and feeling insignificant? It has to be one of the two and both require very different solutions. (Maybe I’ll do a separate blog on this)
“no matter how hard they try”
This makes me think they are seeing people around them “trying hard” but not amounting to anything; parents, extended family, youth workers.
This report was done in the UK, not a third world country. We have free healthcare and a generous benefits system to support people temporarily when they get into difficulty. Even support and help to enter work placements in almost every industry sector – there are no shortage of opportunities.
This makes me think that there are either assumptions being made that they will follow in the footsteps of their parents (and they are not keen on that prospect), or that they are hearing that they won’t be any good (at something/anything). Many children won’t be realising that their parents may have made huge personal sacrifice to raise them. Instead of following what they wanted to do before children, they made a choice to raise them. Also there is this framework throughout schools that the goal is to be good at everything. Rather then having areas of excellence balanced out by areas of disinterest, we are flagging areas of disinterest as “must try harder” – the phrase “must try harder” what is that about?
My question is this: As an adult are you good at everything?
I know first hand that there are things I suck at, dislike, find boring etc. Like many other adults I choose not to fuss over those things that don’t bring me joy. Instead I tend to do more of the things I am good at or WANT to do because I enjoy them. Those things are enough. If I spent all my efforts worrying about the things I “must try harder” at, I would not be going anywhere fast. It would leave me frustrated and lacking hope (does this sound like the report?)
Many adults feel a pressure to “have it all together” rather than have some stuff we are amazing at and other stuff we were just not gifted in (for me that’s cooking and cleaning). We can fall into a trap of feeling bad and getting caught up about the stuff we suck at, rather than focusing on the stuff we rock at!
Think about what your child hears, what do you talk most about? Is it your weaknesses or your strengths?
I get it, it’s so easy to slip into moaning about what we can’t do and what is wrong, unjust, hard, difficult but that’s also the message children hear about the world. That you can try hard but it’s still not enough. It’s also socially accepted to moan more than we praise, a learned behavior that keeps repeating and growing through every generation unfortunately. How do you respond to your difficulties? Do you accept that most things will present some challenges but you have the power to overcome them when you choose to?
In my opinion young people today need to hear, daily, that they are capable. They are capable of doing anything they WANT to do. Also that just because something appears hard doesn’t mean it’s not achievable if we focus and apply our efforts. Something is only ever hard until you figure out how to do it!
From a Yoga perspective, yes we are very keen for children to notice limitations and how they feel. It helps acceptance of both and has been proven to reduce overwhelm, anxiety and stress.
It’s important to note, however, that acceptance of our limitations is beneficial as long as we are not accepting that there can never be any progress or improvement. That would have the opposite effect of reducing stress and anxiety for a lot of people. Imagine accepting that you will never get better at anything? Sounds like the children in the report again. If you WANT to get better at something, whenever you choose to, you should know you can.
Practice = Improvement
Yoga is a “practice”. This means it is something that requires effort and discipline. You will only gain benefits through regular practice to become better/progress/improve. Yes, even finding peace takes practice 😉
It’s not a case of “I accept I cannot do that pose therefore I must never attempt it” or “I will never be able to do it”. That is not the idea behind “acceptance”. Simply accepting that there are areas that we are weaker in but realising it’s not a big deal. We can choose to work on those areas if we want to, but ultimately we are in control, we accept that the decision is ours. I refer back to the article here saying “don’t feel in control of their lives” and would like to highlight how becoming aware of our choices can help.
We are in control of letting go of things that do not serve us. We are meant focus on what DOES serve us – children need this empowerment!
Lastly, acceptance of areas we suck at should be done in love and with respect that other people will enjoy and excel at those areas. Let other people do the things you don’t like doing and love them for it. We need those people to compliment and support us! This is what makes the “teamwork work” and how everyone steps into THEIR PURPOSE and finds their place. This is how everyone amounts to something. I firmly believe everyone will amount to something when they focus on their strengths and amplify them!
I wrote this life mission statement in December 2017 which is why I felt compelled to write this blog. Full of pure opinion and love-fuelled.
“My mission is to use my strengths and passions to help encourage and connect people together, to create a welcoming, accepting and supportive place to express themselves and realise their unlimited potential.”